b'BLOCKCHAIN for EQUITABLEand SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTUREWHAT IS BLOCKCHAIN, ITS BENEFITS AND COMMON USES .BY: MRINALINI KOCHUPILLAIBLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY the mistake/error occurred. Here, therefore, we WHY IT MATTERS Blockchain has been called the internet of valueidentify some of the most common problems linked This article providesand is, in the simplest terms, a digital, distributedwith centralized accounting systems: a brief, easy toledger of assets and transactions with mecha- (i)the need to rely on (trust) one central understand, non- nisms for processing, validating and authorizingagency that has all the power and infrastructure technical explanationtransactions linked with anything that is consid- to keep records; of Blockchainered to have value. While being a complex technol- (ii)the lack of traceability, transparency and technology and itsogy, it is largely a combination of several existingdecentralization that can help identify mistakes features, includingand well-known mechanisms. In particular, it is aand/or evidence of tampering or corruption (lack those that have givencombination, inter alia, of methods for implement- of trust in the system); it the reputation ofing software systems (especially de-centralized,(iii) the need to rely on (trust) the services being disruptive.distributed, and peer to peer systems) in a wayof an intermediary (in our example, Mary and her that maintains their integrity, transparency andrecord) to confirm the state of ones accounts and immutability; a method of data storage and trans- to make additional transactions; and mission; and a programmable platform that per- (iv) even in cases of multiple copies of trans-mits new applications (distributed applications oraction histories, there is the lack of a means of dApps, and smart contracts) to be built upon it.checking (periodically or regularly), whether all For non-technical audiences, it is quite easy tocopies are true, identical and up to date (lack of conceptually understand the possibilities offeredtrust in veracity of data). In sum and substance, by blockchain, without needing to fully understandtherefore, almost all problems linked to centralized its technical inner functioning. This is attemptedrecord keeping can be summarized as problems herein below.associated with trust, or the lack of it. Now, imagine that instead of having just one UNDERSTANDING BLOCKCHAIN: copy of the accounting book, centrally managed by ITS UNIQUE FEATURES Mary, we create a digital system where each indi-Blockchain, or the more generic Distributedvidual in our example system, namely, Mary, Rama, Ledger Technologies (DLT), are best understoodJosef and Mira, have complete copies of the entire by remembering how we keep accounts and whatmoney transfer and return (transaction) history. the common problems in single copy or central- Add to this, the possibility of regular checks to ized accounting systems are. Lets say that Maryensure that each transaction entered in any copy is keeping a record of how much money she hasof the accounting book can be traced to its source loaned to Rama, Josef and Mira. Her accountingand independently verified by predetermined (based book also records the date and time on whichon mutual consent of participants) methods before each or any of them returns the money or borrowsit is entered in other copies. In this system, because more money. In a situation where Mary is the onlyeach participant has an updated digital copy of one entitled to keep a record of the transactionthe transaction history, no single person can be history, there is an inevitable need for Rama,defrauded without he/she coming to know almost Josef and Mira to trust Mary and her accountingimmediately. This also eliminates the need for an system completely. Mary, in turn, must not onlyintermediary (Mary) to execute any new transac-act in complete good faith at all times, but musttions. Thus, for example, Rama can borrow money also be certain that her single and only copy ofnot only from Mary, but has a record of the entire all accounts is up to date and not tampered withtransaction history which permits him to borrow by anyone (including Rama, Josef and Mira). Inalso from Mira if she has the required funds and case of errors, whether resulting from deliberateoffers a lower interest rate. Finally, imagine if to entering of false transactions or simple human orensure that transaction records entered and con-technical mistakes, there is no other copy of thefirmed in the past cannot be amended or deleted accounts one can turn to, to check where and how(tampered with) sometime in the future, the system 22IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'